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A Different Kind of Class 
by Tee Clarkson 

In gymnasiums across the state, student archers 
are lining up thanks to the support of school vol- 
unteers, coaches, and the business community. 

Making Hunting Memories 

by Ron Messina 

\\ hen you introduce a child to hunting, you 
give and receive a gift that will last a lifetime. 

LateW inter Smallmouths 

by David Mart 

Winter blues got you down!' Quality bass are 
on the mo\e in a river nearby, calling to you as 
temps case up. 

Unleash the Hounds 

b\ ken Perrotte 

Rabbit hunting is a team effort between the 
hunter and bis trusted, skilled beagles. 

The \ iew From On High 

l»\ Sail) Mills 

\ irginiansand visitors to the southwestern 
comer of the state have 7,500 acres to cheer 
about, with acquisition of the Big Survey M M \. 


Standing Tall 

b\ Bruce Lemmerl 

Rewind to the mid- 1950s, w ben a certain \ irginia 
game warden was setting the bar high in a career 
that would span 37 years. 


30 Water is Life • 32 Off the Leash • 33 Photo Tips • 34 Dining In 
ABOUT THE COYER: Eastern Cottontail. Story on page 16. i Maslowski Photo 

Executive Director 

This issue of Virginia Wildlife holds special meaning for me. 
The opening feature on the National Archery in the Schools 
Program (NASP) coincides with the statewide tournament to be 
held this month at the Meadow Event Park in Caroline County. 
While Virginia did not "invent" NASP, our folks have sure perfect- 
ed it. We now offer this introduction to archery in more than 500 
schools statewide, involving more than two hundred thousand 
youngsters across Virginia. I have attended some of these events 
and they are absolutely thrilling. The support from parents, teach- 
ers, coaches, and volunteers is heartwarming! 

The essay on mentoring a young hunter is also very meaning- 
ful to me. Most of us were introduced to hunting and fishing by a 
family member who cared enough to share their outdoors experi- 
ences with us. While my grandfather and father were the major in- 
fluence over my love of hunting, there were in fact other hunters 
who served as mentors in types of hunting that were either new to 
me or not found in the area where I lived. I would not be the avid 
turkey hunter I am today without those thoughtful outings in pur- 
suit of wild turkeys with veteran turkey hunters who knew what 
they were doing. I have heard all my life that if you really want to 
learn something, teach it to someone else. The chance to "pay it 
forward" and share with a new hunter is just as rewarding! I say this 
because the future of our hunting heritage really does hinge upon 
our success in introducing others to this cherished tradition. 

Growing up in southwest Virginia during the days before we 
had quite as many deer and turkey as we have now, my hunting for- 
ays focused on squirrels and rabbits and my fishing centered upon 
smallmouths in the New River. The hunting and fishing stories in 
this issue bring back even more fond memories of those pursuits 
with my dad and brother. 

Several years ago the Department broke a long dry spell when 
we were able to purchase the Big Survey property in Wythe Coun- 
ty. One of the prominent mountains on the Big Survey is Sand 
Mountain, and I still have a photograph of the log cabin and my 
ancestors who lived in the shadow of this hillside along with other 
relatives from Ivanhoe, Piney, Fries, and Fort Chiswell. This rela- 
tively new wildlife management area feels like "the old home place" 
to me. It is situated in a spectacular region of our commonwealth, 
now protected to benefit wildlife and outdoor kindred spirits! 

On another personal note, the closing feature about former 
game warden Capt. Darrell Ferrell is a very special one indeed. I 
was fortunate enough to work with Captain Ferrell, and he is a 
most remarkable individual. We can learn a lot from the captain, 
and others from his era, whose genteel nature and work ethic com- 
manded great respect from those he served. So, hats off to Darrell 
for all he has meant to DGIF, our wildlife resources, and the sports- 
men and sportswomen of Virginia. 

February may be the shortest month of the year, but remem- 
ber, this year is a leap year. That is most appropriate to note, since 
rabbit season lasts 'til the end of the month. Take advantage: Invite 
a new hunter out rabbit hunting and make a hunter for life! 


To manage Virginias wildlife and inland fish to maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the needs of the Commonwealth; To 
provide opportunity for all to enjoy wildlife, inland fish, boating and related outdoor recreation and to work diligently to safeguard the rights 
of the people to hunt, fish and harvest game as provided for in the Constitution or Virginia; To promote safer)- tor persons and property in 
connection with boating, hunting and fishing; To provide educational outreach programs and materials that foster an awareness of and appre- 
ciation for Virgi nia's fish and wildlife resources, their habitats, and hunting, fishing, and boating opportunities. 

Dedicated to the Conservation of Virginias Wildlife and Natural Resources 


\0I(I\1I 73 



Bob McDonnell, Governor 


Subsidized this publication 

Douglas W. Domenech 



Bob Duncan 

Executive Director 


Lisa Caruso, Church Road 
J. Brent Clarke, III, Great Falls 
Curtis D. Colgate, Virginia Beach 
James W. Hazel, Oakton 
Randy J. Kozuch, Alexandria 
Mary Louisa Pollard, Irvington 
F. Scott Reed, Jr., Manakin-Sabot 
Leon O. Turner, Fincastle 
Charles S. Yates, Cleveland 


Sally Mills, Editor 

Lee Walker, Ron Messina, Julia Dixon, 

Contributing Editors 
Emily Pels, Art Director 
Carol Kushlak, Production Manager 
Allen Boynton, Ryan Niccoli, Brian Watson, 

Staff Contributors 

Printing by Progress Printing Plus, Lynchburg, VA 

Virginia Wildlife (ISSN 0042 6792) is published monthl 
by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries 
Send all subscription orders and address changes to Virginia 
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Copyright 2012 by the Virginia Department of Game am 
Inland Fisheries. All rights reserved. 

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries shall affon 
to all persons an equal access to Department programs i 
facilities without regard to race, color, religion, national ori 
gin, disability, sex, or age. If you believe that you have I 
discriminated against in any program, activity or facilit] 
please write to: Virginia Department ot Game and lnlan 
Fisheries, ATTN: Compliance Officer, (4010 West Br. 
Street.) P. O. Box 1 1 104, Richmond, Virginia 23230-1 104 

This publication is intended fot general informational pur 
poses only and every effort has been made to ensure its ac 
curacy. The information contained herein does not serve a 
a legal representation offish and wildlife laws or regulation; 
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries doc 
not assume responsibility for any change in dates, regula 
tions, or information that may occur after publication. 

A Different Kind 

of Class 

A statewide archery 
program in Virginia 

schools draws an 
enthusiastic response. 

story by Tee Clarkson 
photos by Lee Walker 

he whistle blows for the first round 
of practice just as I come through 
the door. In an instant the building 
fills with a series of intermittent "thumps," 
followed by silence. "You may now collect 
your arrows," proclaims a voice over the loud 
speaker. Seventy-eight kids from across the 
state, spread out in a line perhaps 60 yards 
long, hang their bows on the rests and pro- 
ceed toward the targets to check their scores. 
This marks the beginning of the National 
Archery in the Schools Program statewide 

Though the methods and tools were 
crude by comparison, archery (and the teach- 
ing of it) is as old a skill and practice as draw- 
ing on cave walls and fashioning tools from 
rocks. Today, rigid curriculums and standard- 
ized tests, 2 1 "-century skills needs, improve- 
ment plans, and implementation of 
technology in the classroom make it hard to 
incorporate anything new into school studies 
where the benefit cannot necessarily be meas- 
ured by data on a spreadsheet. Fortunately, 
though, through the hard work of many, stu- 
dents are benefitting from alternate in-school 
activities like this archery program, referred to 

The practice session has ended and the 
students now line up again, waiting for the 
call to begin their first official round of shoot- 
ing. Each team consists of 1 6 to 24 members, 
including at least five members of the oppo- 
site gender. The tension in the building is now 
palpable as these arrows count toward the ul- 
timate goal for each team and individual, that 
of qualifying for the nationals in Louisville a 
few months down the line. Just in front of 
where I am standing, a tall girl with brownish 
blonde hair draws her bow and lines up her 
first shot. Kensley Watkins is fourteen and a 
freshman at Lee-Davis High School in 
Hanover County. Kensley started shooting 
when she was in eighth grade at Stonewall 

Students from Hanover, Albemarle, and Fairfax counties shoot an end from 15 meters. 

Bruce Lovelace from Chickahominy MS demonstrates victory in the coaches' shoot-off. 


Through a tremendous amount of 
passion and hard work, the National Archery 
in the Schools Program has taken off over the 
last decade since beginning in Kentucky in 
2002. Virginia started the program in 2006 
under the guidance of Karen Holson, who 
supervises outdoor education programs for 
the Department. With the help of school dis- 
tricts, sponsors, and teachers, Holson intro- 
duced the program to 90 schools the first 
year. Just five years later, over 500 schools 
across the state have introduced archery to 

The tournament provides an opportunity for 
student archers to meet new friends and, 
at the same time, demonstrate focus and 
precision skills. 

Jackson Middle School under the tutelage of 
her coach, Tommy Evans, a physical educa- 
tion teacher at the school. Evans was one of 
the first teachers to adopt the national pro- 
gram in Virginia nearly six years ago. Now he 
oversees the program at both the middle and 
high school levels. 

some 200,000 elementary, middle, and 
high-school-aged students. Karen attributes 
the popularity of the program to the fact that 
it "includes all kids, all abilities, all sizes, and 
all ages." 

This is certainly evident as Kensley 
walks to the target to pull her arrows, scoring 

A student archer from Hidden Valley HS 
warms up by practicing with his string bow 
before going to the shooting line. 

an impressive 230 by the end of her turn. Just 
several archers down the line, Becky 
Townsend also returns with her arrows, edg- 
ing out Kensley with a score of 254. Becky is a 
ninth grader from neighboring rival, Atlee 
High School in Hanover County, and the 
previous year, was the first middle school girl 
to represent Virginia in the nationals. While 
the rivalry between Lee-Davis and Atlee can 
get a little heated on Friday nights under the 
lights, one would never know it here. With 
the first round over and a break before they 
will shoot again, Kensley and Becky retire to a 
table together for a lunch break. 

Bruce Lovelace, the coach for Atlee high 
and Chickahominy middle schools, is in his 
33 rJ year of teaching, and was actually one of 
Tommy Evans's teachers. Like Tommy, he 
coaches both a middle and a high school 
team, something that seems quite common. 
Bruce started coaching for both as the middle 
schoolers moved on to high schools where 
there was no team. Many students did not 
want to give up the program, so Tommy and 
Bruce stepped in, volunteering their time. 
Atlee's team finds time to practice before and 
after school and over the holidays. Bruce says 
the best part of this "phenomenal" program is 
the broad range of kids that get to shoot and 
enjoy themselves. "Its not necessarily the top 
athletes," he says. "Kids find a hidden talent 
they weren't aware of." 

At the table, Kensley and Becky compare 
scores and reflect on the program and their 
experiences. Kensley hopes to continue 
shooting through high school. "It's fun to be 
around the team," she says. "It's not about 
how well we do. It's about having fun, having 
a good time. Any girl can do it." 

FEBRUARY 2012 ♦ 

The "lunch ladies,' 


en Valley HS coaches, put on their serious coaching faces. 

Sixth graders at Chickahominy MS take 1st Place at the 2011 state tournament. 

the summer and putting on car washes, bake 
sales, and even auctioning offa ham at Christ- 
mas to raise money for the team. Just two 
years ago, the team from Hidden Valley fin- 
ished first in the state. Kim echoes the same 
sentiments that ring throughout the building 
from both coaches and kids: "We just want 
them to do their best and enjoy shooting." 

"We want them to have fun," she adds. 

Undoubtedly, on this particular Satur- 
day in February there are high school seniors 
around the state taking additional courses to 
prepare for the SATs. There are students visit- 
ing libraries, working on history projects, and 
solving calculus equations. All of these things 
have their place. Here at the Meadow Event 
Park in Doswell, however, the arrows contin- 
ue to "thump" the targets. It is a sound that 
will be heard throughout this building into 
early evening and, with a little luck, a sound 
that will be heard in middle and high schools 
across the state for years to come, thanks to 
theNASP. * 

Tee Clarkson is an English teacher at Deep Run 
High School in Henrico Co. and runs Virginia 
Fishing Adventures, a fishing camp for kids: 

If your school wants to offer an archery 
program, please contact Karen Holson 
at (804) 367-6355 or email 
The Virginia State Tournament is 
scheduled for February 25, 2012 at 
Meadow Event Park in Doswell. 

Becky Townsend also intends on contin- 
uing to shoot through high school. "I'm ath- 
letically challenged," she jokes. "This sport 
meets my needs. It's ideal." These two girls 
represent exacdy what the NASP is all about, 
according to Karen Holson. "Anybody of any 
size, age, or ability can benefit from it. They 
can do it in the backyard." These two girls 
have certainly excelled. 

As Kensley and Becky leave the table to 
prepare for their next round, perhaps one of 
the most anticipated moments of the compe- 
tition occurs when the Hidden Valley High 
School team arrives on a bus from Roanoke. 
Hidden Valley High School adopted the 
NASP program early on and had tremendous 

response from the students, but when their 
coach transferred to another school they were 
left in a lurch. The kids were upset, thinking 
the program was ending and they were losing 
the team. That is when Kim Stevens and 
Connie Waddell stepped in as coaches to help 
out. Kim and Connie work in nutrition serv- 
ices at the school and are referred to as the 
"lunch ladies." Shortly after, they were joined 
by Sherry Beamer, a special education teacher. 
Kim admits they got "lots of weird looks at 
the beginning. But once they got used to us 
and realized we were there to help, they got 
into it." 

The lunch ladies have taken their role 
very seriously, hosting an archery camp during 

Overall 2011 NASP Champion Archers are 
all smiles. 







m • 


♦ 4 

by Ron Messina 

Hunting is part adrenaline, part 
religion, and a big heaping 
mess of cold, wet mud. 
There's no getting around the realities of 
frozen fingers, sharp briars ripping at skin, 
and long marches over uneven terrain before 
sunrise. It's the heat of dove season and op- 
pressive mosquitoes throughout archery sea- 
son. It's rain and snow. Hunting is hard. It's 
4:30 morning alarms and, at the end of the 
day, tired walks back to the truck after dark. 
Hunting takes more than patience; it takes re- 

Why on earth would anyone want to in- 
troduce an innocent youth to such trouble? 

Maybe because hunting is much more 
than that. It's the deep blue on a wood duck's 
feathers. It's a buck appearing out of nowhere 
in the morning light. It's your dad teaching 
you to walk quietly in the woods. It's belong- 
ing to a piece of real estate, the one you hap- 
pen to be standing in just as the leaves and the 
trees do. Each hunt teaches something. That's 
why bringing someone into this visceral 
world is akin to a tribal initiation. And why 
hunting memories take on special meaning. 

A new favorite hunting memory of 
mine takes place on a perfect spring morning 
in May, on a high mountain meadow dotted 
with trees and surrounded by thick woods. A 
turkey is close and sounding off boldly in the 
sunshine, making that amazing call that spurs 
my heart to a gallop. Every time I draw the 
striker across the slate call he fires back, bring- 
ing the woods alive with thunderous gobbles. 
They're louder now. He's coming to the field 
edge, where a perfect ambush is planned, and 
someone means to do him harm. It's some- 
one dear to me who's hunting for the first 
time, and I want this bird to come in. 

Everything is still in the way it is before a 
shot. The gun barrel is nestled in the crook of 
a shooting stick, ready. The hunter is focused, 
the stage is set, but some intangible thing is 
not right. This bird is wary and never comes 
into shooting range; instead, hanging up at 
the woods' edge. It's an experience I've had 
before — to be honest, many times — and a bit 
disappointing. But for the one with me, the 
day still shines with perfection. That would 
be my student, my young padawan, my son 
Jon. He'd obviously been amazed by that 
sound, too. 

Teaching a child to hunt can lead to a lifetime of cherished memories 

"That was exciting!" Jon whispers, put- 
ting emphasis on the word "exciting" when 
we finally speak. Through his headnet I see a 
smile in his eyes and I can't help but smile my- 
self. Perhaps the student has something to 
teach the teacher. 

It's not always the kill that leads to the 

He takes the shotgun down off the stick. 
I consider how still he'd been for the past 25 
minutes. If you don't think that's hard, try sit- 
ting completely still for half that long. 

"Whew! My arms are shaking," he an- 
nounces, pulling off the facemask, sandy 
brown hair flopping out. He's 10 and this is 
one of the first real hunts he's been on, and 
certainly the closest he's been to intense hunt- 
ing action. Today he felt what it was like to be 
on point, ready to do harm to a fellow crea- 
ture, in order to bring it to the table for his 
family. I could see the beginnings of a hunter 
in him, turkey or no turkey. This kid is going 
to hunt. 


The author's old double barrel is put to good 
use by his son, Jon, in a swamp. 




Learning to be safe in the woods is a requirement before a gun is ever fired. Jon receives sage advice from the author's friend and mentor, Harry Slone. 

In hunting, as in many pursuits in life, 
it's the journey and not the end-game destina- 
tion that truly matters. It's about doing it 
right, being safe, and being prepared. And to 
us it had been a successful and memorable 

As Jon and I walk down the scenic High- 
land County hillside together we recall the 
events of the morning: hearing the whip- 
poor-will call in the dark as we walked in; see- 
ing a large group of whitetails gracefully 
crossing the meadow just 20 yards away, their 
coats ablaze in the orange-pink light of sun- 
rise; watching a stealthy fox squirrel run along 
the edge of the woods; finding the skull of a 
small animal on the ground; and then ending 
the hunt with a close encounter with a gob- 
bler. All in all, not a bad day to be alive. 

Back at our cabin, we munch a few burg- 
ers and my mind wanders back some 30-odd 
years, through the deep woods of memory to 
another sunny day in mountainous western 
Pennsylvania. In this place I'm a 12 year old, a 

lot like Jon, and its my first real hunt — a rab- 
bit hunt with my dad and older brother Joe. 
Our beagle Queenie, the finest rabbit dog in 
the county, is in full cry and has turned a rab- 
bit back to us. My dad sends me ahead lor the 
shot and, my heart pounding, I find myself 
looking down the brass beads of a brand new 
double barrel at my quarry. The rabbit mak- 
ing his loop back to the hunters has made a 
fatal mistake. It stops to look back toward the 
hound when I squeeze the trigger on that first 

That textbook shot was my entrance 
into the hunting world, and I will never for- 
get the smiles and handshakes from Joe and 
my dad, or the weight of that rabbit in my 
game pouch. They knew that — unlike my 
brothers Dave, Chris, and Mike, who'd not 
felt the calling — here was another hunter in 
the family. 

Less than a year after that Highland 
County gobbler hunt, my young student 
finds himself stepping up into in a muddy 

duck blind with me, well before sunrise. It's a 
cold morning. We enjoy watching a meteor 
shower in a brilliant, star-filled sky with the 
only sound the occasional 'sploosh' of decoys 
hitting the water, set by friend Dave Hoppler. 
Shordy after first light, mallards swing over us, 
circling, close enough that we hear the air 
whistling through their feathers. Later, we 
would all shoot ducks. Jon would take his first 
animal, a hen mallard flying high above us. It 
was thrilling to watch him track the bird, make 
the shot, and in that moment connect the past 
with the future; to shake his hand and wel- 
come him into the tribe of hunters. 

Introducing a young person, especially a 
family member, to the sporting outdoors is 
like giving a great gift — and receiving it, as 
well. One can only imagine what memories 
this young hunter will carry with him 30 years 
from now. ?f 

Ron Messina is a videographer for the Department 
and an avid hunter. 

FEBRUARY 2012 ♦ 11 

Late Winter 

Its never 

too early to 


favorite river 

story and photos 
by David Hart 

The first fish of the day came just 
minutes after Shawn Hash pushed 
his raft away from shore. He eased 
the boat up to an island in the middle of the 
New River, nodded toward a boulder, and 

suggested I drop my lure in the slower water 
behind the rock. I barely cranked the handle 
on my reel when the spinnerbait on the end 
of my line hit something solid. 

"Snagged," I thought. 

As I lifted my rod tip, however, the snag 
turned into a fish and began stripping line as 
it raced for deeper water. Not only was I into 
the first bass of the day, I was into a good one. 
Hash grabbed the net while I wresded the fish 
back to the raft. A few minutes later, I placed 
the smallmouth on a measuring board and 
then proudly hoisted the 20-inch bass for my 
boat partners to see. It was just one of a dozen 
big smallmouths we caught that day, includ- 
ing another that topped it. 

That's not uncommon this time of year. 


In fact, there's no better time to cross paths 
with a trophy-sized smallmouth in any of 
Virginia's famous smallmouth rivers than 
right now. Based on citation records kept by 
the Department, you'd think otherwise. 
More 20-inch or better smallmouths are 
caught in the warmer months than in March 
or April, but there's a simple explanation for 
that: There are far more people on Virginias 
smallmouth rivers in May, June, and July. 
Hash, a New River guide and owner of Tan- 
gent Outfitters, isn't surprised. Only the most 
dedicated anglers seem willing to brave the el- 
ements. Those that do, however, are typically 
rewarded with their biggest bass of the year; 
sometimes even two, three, or four citation 
fish in a single day. 


"You aren't going to have a 50-fish 
day in the late winter or early spring like 
you can in the summer, but the small- 
mouths are going to average much larg- 
er," says Chris McClellan, who was 
sharing the raft with me and Hash on that 
late March day last year. The angler from 
Rice continues, "It's as if every fish in the 
river is 1 5 inches or better. I have no idea 
where the small fish go, but we only catch 
quality bass in the winter and early 

Just days after our outing, McClel- 
lan and another angler boated seven bass 
over 1 8 inches, including a 2 1 -Yi incher, a 
trophy by anyone's standards. 

( 15) 

Top left, crankbaits are a top bait in the late winter or early spring. Make sure they dive 
deep enough to bump bottom, where the fish are. Above, during late winter, small- 
mouths often hug the sun-warmed shorelines and the good news is that most every- 
thing you catch will be a quality bass. 

FEBRUARY 2012 ♦ 13 

Safety First 

Don't assume you can shed your life jacket or 
even your coat just because the air may be in the 
60s. It's always cooler on the water in March and 
April than it is on dry land, so take an extra 
sweatshirt. More important, always wear your 
life jacket. A sudden plunge into 50-degree water 
can result in exhaustion or unconciousness in 
less than an hour, according to 
Along with the shock of cold water, you'll be 
pulled down by the added weight of a thick layer 
of wet clothes that you wouldn't be wearing in 
the summer. That's why it is vital to always, 
always, always wear a life jacket— even on calm, 
flat water. 

Be mentally and physically prepared to fall 
overboard, even if you think it will never happen 
to you. What will you do if your canoe tips or you 
fall out of your boat? How will you get back in? 
And what will you do next? 

Always have a floating dry bag loaded with 
some essential gear that will help you survive if 
you take a spill. An extra change of warm clothes, 
a towel, and a reliable fire starter can mean the 
difference between life and death, or at least an 
uncomfortable ride back to your truck and a 
reasonably comfortable one. 

Also, check the water level before you leave 
home. High, fast water can be dangerous, and it 
can make for tough fishing. The U.S. Geological 
Survey has a website that reports real-time 
water flow data, including river levels, at: It's a 
valuable tool that can help you.decide if the river 
is safe for boating before you qyen leave home. 

Time To Go, 
Relatively Speaking 

Smallmouths gladly eat a lure just about all 
year long in Virginia. Hash has caught fish in 
38-degree water, but they can be fickle crea- 
tures in the early spring, pouncing on lures one 
day and shunning them the next. A great day 
on the river can be followed by a tough one. 
While many hard-core smallmouth anglers 
pay close attention to water temperature, 
Hash is less interested in the specific tempera- 
ture than a revealing trend. 

"People ask me all the time what the 
rivers water temperature is and I tell them, but 
that's not what's important this time of year," 
he insists. 

Instead, Hash looks for a warming trend. 
It doesn't matter if the water is 40 degrees 
today, for example. He wants to see several 
days of warming weather that will ultimately 
increase water temperature a few degrees. If 
the water jumps from 44 to 47 or 48 to 50, it's 
time to go fishing. A difference of just a few de- 
grees is enough to get the fish active and feed- 

That's not to say you need to monitor the 
water temperature on a daily basis. A glance at 
the weather forecast can tell you all you need to 
know. If the air has been in the low 40s all week 
and a three-, four-, or five-day warming trend 
of five to ten degrees is on tap, plan a day to 
float one of Virginia's smallmouth rivers. But 
plan it toward the end of that warming spell. 

But it's not just a warming trend that can 
dictate success or failure. Water color is also 
important. Many dedicated winter small- 
mouth anglers favor chalky-green water, but 
plenty of big bass are caught in dirty brown 
water, which actually warms faster than clear- 
er water. Just as Hash looks for a warming 
trend in water temperatures, he also likes a 
positive trend in color — water that is gradual- 
ly changing from muddy to stained as the 
days progress. So does McClellan, who says 
that anywhere from one to three feet of visi- 
bility is ideal. 

"Clear water can be tough because the 
fish can be real spooky, but you can certainly 
catch them in clear water. Dirtier water is bet- 
ter because they can't see your boat and have 
less time to look at your lure and decide not to 
eat it," he adds. 

Lures, Simply Speaking 

Fortunately, choosing the right lure for an 
early spring outing isn't complicated. Both 
anglers are big fans of crankbaits, spinner- 
baits, suspending jerkbaits, and jigs. That's 
just about all they use in March and April. 

"I'm using what most anglers consider 
largemouth baits. Most of the fish I catch this 
time of year are pretty big, so I think larger 
lures just help catch bigger bass," says Mc- 

He'll rig three or four rods with different 
baits, switching as the mood strikes him or as 

You'll only need 4 or 5 lures this time of year, but make sure you bring different colors and 
sizes. Left, Chris McClellan caught this 20-inch smallmouth in late March, one of nearly a 
dozen fish over 15 inches that day. 

he encounters water that just fits a specific 
bait. For example, a jig is ideal for deeper, 
slower holes, while a crankbait is the perfect 
lure to pull parallel to mid-river ledges. A 
spinnerbait can be fished just about any- 
where, including right next to the shoreline or 
over shallower flats and behind ledges and 
boulders. Of course, all of those lures can be 
fished just about anywhere and there are no 
steadfast rules, especially at this time of year. 
The key is to try different baits until the fish 
tell you which one they prefer. One day, it 
might be a white half-ounce spinnerbait or a 
crawfish-pattern crankbait, while the next 
day, or even the next hour, the fish might 
want a quarter-ounce black jig and trailer 
crawled across the bottom or a chartreuse 
crankbait pulled through pockets behind 
boulders. Change lure style, color, size, and 
retrieve until you find the right combination. 
And don't hesitate to cast to unlikely spots. 
Winter smallmouths tend to favor slower 
water, but they will move as the water warms. 

"We catch them on flats in a foot or two 
of water in the late winter, especially in the 
middle of the day when the water has warmed 
up a little more," says Hash. "You just never 

When you do catch a bass, take note of 
the location, the depth, and anything else that 
might point to a pattern. Other bass may be 
lurking in similar areas farther downriver, al- 
lowing you to target locations. Remember, 
you'll probably only catch a few fish all day, so 
don't expect to get a bite every few minutes. 
That's just part of a late-winter smallmouth 
outing. Patience is one of the most important 
factors this time of year. 

Just Go 

Even more important? Mustering up the 
will — and a partner — to spend a day on the 
water. While Hash and McClellan have the 
luxury of choosing the days that offer the best 
overall conditions, they both admit that big 
bass will bite at just about any time. You just 
never know. In other words, if you simply 
can't stay indoors for another day, grab a 
friend, load up your gear, and head to the 
nearest smallmouth river. You just might 
catch the biggest bass — or two or three — of 
your life. ?f 

David Hart is a full-time freelance writer and 
photographer from Rice. He is a regular contributor 
to numerous national hunting and fishing 

FEBRUARY 2012 ♦ 15 

/' * 

Rabbit hunter bonds are 
built around beagles. 

by Ken Perrotte 

Frank Spuchesi was a hard-core deer 
hunter as a boy and a young man. 
He enjoyed still hunting, stand 
hunting, and joining in with hunt clubs as 
they used dogs to get the deer up and run- 
ning. He even bought two tri-color beagles 
himself, intending to use them for deer. 

Then his girlfriend, Stephanie, intro- 
duced him to her relative, Mickey Ford. 

Ford, then in his early 60s, had just re- 
tired and he, too, was a die-hard hunter. Only 
he didn't give a hoot for deer hunting. His 
passion was running cottontails with his pack 

It only took one hunting trip with Ford, 
watching those dogs snuffle along the cool 
ground, crying out as they snorted the surely 
intoxicating scent of a rabbit, for Spuchesi to 
determine his two beagles had a higher, better 
purpose. Spuchesi now owns two rabbit dogs. 
And he and Ford have been nearly insepara- 
ble hunting partners ever since. 

Today, Spuchesi is a senior conservation 
police officer with the Department, responsi- 
ble for King George County. He has devel- 

oped a reputation for staying on the trail of 
game violators as tenaciously as Ford's beagles 
follow rabbits. 

Now 74, Ford found his beagle-rabbit 
calling in 1959 after he left the Air Force. He 
lives in Spotsylvania County but grew up in 
Anne Arundel County, Maryland, with both 
his father, Milton Ford, and grandfather Al- 
bert Wood imbuing in him the rabbit hunting 

"I bought two male puppies — guess I 
broke them myself. I've had beagles ever since, 
sometimes as many as 16," Ford said. When 
he's hunting alone, he'll typically hunt seven 
dogs, but when he and Spuchesi join forces, 
they'll pool their pack into 1 1 or 1 2 dogs. 


"Finding rabbits can be hard," Ford ad- 
mitted, adding, "They're not as plentiful as 
they were years ago. When you've got some 
good places, you really don't advertise." 

Indeed, the first thing any rabbit enthu- 
siast does when extending an offer to accom- 
pany him is to swear you to secrecy about the 
location. I thought Ford and Spuchesi were 
going to put a hood over my head and spin me 
around a few times before loading me into the 

"I enjoy the dogs the most, what they do, 
how they run a rabbit, the noise they make," 
Ford said. 

He pays attention to the composition of 
his pack. "I like to run my young dogs with 
older dogs, at least until they're two years old. 
I'm always on the watch for dogs picking up 
bad faults. Those can be hard to correct," he 
explained. "I prefer female dogs in the pack — 
just think they're smarter, but if you get a good 
male, they're hard to beat, too." 

His perfect day afield is one where the 
dogs put up a few rabbits and perform well on 
the run. 

Weather can have a bearing on dog per- 
formance. Extremely dry conditions can be 
confounding and Ford says he has also heard, 
but not sure he understands why, that dogs 
don't do as well when there is an easterly wind. 

Spuchesi and Ford, as well as many Vir- 
ginia rabbit hunters, say they've seen changing 
rabbit behavior over the last decade or two. 
Rabbit hunting used to involve jumping a 

Rabbit hunting is increasingly a niche 
outdoors activity. It takes a lot of money to 
maintain a pack of dogs. Ford's preferred dog 
food has doubled in price over the past few 
years; the cost of veterinary supplies is anoth- 
er expense; and then there's the skyrocketing 
cost of fuel. Many of Ford and Spuchesi's 
hunting locations in the Northern Neck in- 
volve 90-minute drives from home. Ford also 
treks frequently to Maryland's Eastern Shore 
to find bunnies for his beagles. 

Frank Spuchesi hands Mickey Ford a nice Virginia cottontail. Below, the beagles fall into a line 
while trailing the fresh scent of a rabbit. The goal is for the dogs to stay in a tight group while on 
the chase. 

rabbit and then standing fast while the dogs 
ran the rabbit. The rabbits typically ran a bro- 
ken circle, ending up almost back in the same 
spot where they were jumped. Not so any- 
more, at least not with any of the certainty of 
bygone years. 

"I don't think the rabbits come back as 
quickly or frequendy as they used to," Ford 
said. "Sometimes you have to move up to get a 
shot. Sometimes they don't come back at all." 

The rabbit hunters blame it on increasing 
numbers of predators, mainly coyotes and 
foxes that chase the rabbits year-round. Rab- 
bits are evolving their patterns of response. 

Neither Ford nor Spuchesi are big on 
field trial competitions, especially the hard- 
core events involving dogs trained just for suc- 

©Ken Perrotte 

cess in the trials. They do, though, enjoy pit- 
ting their hunting dogs against those of other 
rabbit hunting enthusiasts in the new Battle- 
field Beagle Club events in Spotsylvania. 

"The people who go to field trials are ei- 
ther serious hunters or serious field trialers. 
You don't often find people who are both," 
Ford explained. "The field trialers run their 
dogs a lot, usually in small packs, looking for 
faults. Those guys know what the judges like. 
One thing I've learned is you may have the 
best dog at actually hunting rabbits, but that 
dog may not do exactly what judges want in a 
competition," he added. 

A "champion" beagle doesn't begin to 
fetch the prices commanded for top bird 
dogs, Spuchesi said. But a field trial champion 

that also boasts proven hunting chops can get 
anywhere from $600 and higher. Neither 
man breeds dogs to sell, although they sell a 
couple occasionally to keep the pack size man- 

"One thing I've learned from Mickey is 
there's always a better dog out there. He's al- 
ways on the lookout for that next best dog," 
Spuchesi noted. 

The Hunt 

One nice thing about rabbit hunting versus 
deer or duck hunting is that hunters can 
leisurely sleep in a little, have a nice breakfast, 
and assemble with plenty of morning hours 

The beagles watched with expectant eyes 
from their boxes in the back of Ford's and 
Spuchesi's trucks on a brisk January morning. 
Once the tailgates dropped, beagles began bal- 
ing to the turf, stretching legs, emptying blad- 
ders, and getting organized to sniffout a trail. 
It wasn't long before a seasoned female dog 
picked up a scent and let her pack mates 
know. The dogs, most of them anyway, began 
following her in pursuit of the rabbit. 

"See that young male there," Ford said, 
waving his shotgun barrel toward a tri-color 
beagle looping ahead of others in the line to 
get closer to the lead. "He's 'skirting.' That's a 
bad fault and if he were in any competition, 
the judges would really penalize that. I don't 
want other dogs picking that habit up." 

"Dogs tend to get classified as 'jump' 
dogs, the ones that usually get a rabbit up, and 
'line' dogs, ones that aren't real crazy on the 
track, don't overrun the track. Typically, if 
they lose the track they'll figure it out and be 
able to go back and pick it up faster. 

"The key is to have them working as a 
group," Spuchesi explained. "You want them 






■ V- 


A rabbit chase is a great way to introduce kids 
to hunting. Right, Van DeBernard (L), Mickey 
Ford, and Frank Spuchesi relax and talk about 
their dogs' performances after a successful 

in a tight knot while running. The old man's 
saying is, 'You want to be able to throw a blan- 
ket over all of them.'" 

"Mickey is very patient," he added. "He 
waits for the dogs to do their job. When the 
dogs are running, we hang tight. If they lose 
the rabbit, we let them figure out what hap- 
pened, give them plenty of time." 

Ford similarly expressed his admiration 
for Spuchesi, saying, "I enjoy hunting with 
Frank. He hunts the way I like to hunt. We 
never hesitate to go into the weeds to help 
jump the rabbit and we don't shoot the rab- 
bits on the jump. The dogs have to run the 

They try to hunt twice a week during the 

season, especially early on. Spuchesi's daugh- 
ter, Amber, and Ford's grandson, Hunter 
Hall, have joined in on a few hunts. Only the 
kids carry the shotguns on those hunts, while 
the men monitor the dogs and mentor the 

Despite the many delectable recipes for 
rabbit, Ford says he only eats them about 
once a year now. "I like them pan-fried until 
brown and then simmered in water until ten- 
der. That and mashed potatoes and some 
bread is all I want," Ford said. 

Frank Spuchesi is the only member in 
his immediate family that'll eat the rabbits 
they shoot. "They'll eat all the venison you 
can put in front of them, but I guess the rab- 
bits are too cute," he shrugged. "I don't eat 
them that much but I don't mind cleaning 
them and giving the meat to some close 
friends who enjoy getting it." 

♦ ♦♦ 

Temperatures rose by late morning and the 
dogs had put in a workout. Only a couple of 
rabbits were in the cooler and destined for 
somebody's frying pan, but that was of little 
consequence to Spuchesi and Ford. More im- 
portant was the analysis of the dogs' perform- 
ance. There were a couple of opportunities for 
improvement, but overall, the dogs made a 
few good runs, really staying with the game. 

The two men loaded their four-legged 
partners back into the pickups. 

"See you next week," Spuchesi asked as 
much as stated to his hunting partner. 

"See you then. I've got a spot in mind," 
Ford answered. ?f 

Ken Perrotte is a King George County resident and 
the outdoors columnist for Fredericksburg's Free 
Lance-Star newspaper. 

■ '*fc 











r ^ 



- - 


• I * 



l £ ' ..VjWfc 


The View From 

The Big Survey WMA 

protects prime wildlife 

habitat while offering 

spectacular views. 

by Sally Mills 

The far reaches of southwestern Vir- 
ginia are known for the mining of 
lead and salt, industries born of the 
bedrock in their midst. For early settlers brave 
enough to eke out a living in the mountains 
here, a pioneering spirit and a willingness to 
help one's neighbors simply came with the ter- 

It was just such a brave young girl, legend 
has it, who rode her horse one fateful night over 
the Walker Mountain pass to warn the town of 
Wytheville in 1863 that a brigade from the 
North was headed their way. As that story goes, 

Molly Tynes saved the countless lives of neigh- 
bors and Confederate soldiers through this one 
act of heroism. Just in the nick of time. 

A different act of heroism now reverber- 
ates throughout these hillsides. It also involves 
an unlikely story line and a small group of ac- 
tivists, among them a college professor and the 
Western Virginia Land Trust. Of course they 
didn't do it alone, but they were the spark. 
Their act of heroism saved thousands of acres of 
woodland and wildlife habitat. Just in the nick 

When all was said and done, the Shaffer 
family, the land trust (WVLT), the Virginia 
Outdoors Foundation, town of Wytheville 
leaders, state delegates, students, The Conser- 
vation Fund, this Department (DGIF), and 
Virginians from all walks of life who love this 
land pulled offa remarkable feat. They secured 
this mountaintop property called the Big Sur- 
vey for the public in perpetuity; specifically, for 
its value to wildlife. 

The story begins with a grant secured by 
the WVLT to study the land. Staff from the Di- 
vision of Natural Heritage, with community fi- 
nancial support, stepped in to survey the area's 
rich biological inventory to help "make the 
case" for its purchase to create a wildlife man- 
agement area. Among the fauna in need of pro- 
tection: a rare moth (Catocala herodias 
gerhardi), the Diana fritillary (Speyeria diana), 
and the timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus). 

Fast forward a bit, and after two years and 
many hours of public testimony and a series of 
hard-won victories, the property was acquired 
by the Department (DGIF) through a loan 
from the state general fund in 200 1 . 

Profile of the Land 

The Big Survey Wildlife Management Area 
(WMA) spans some 7,500 acres of mountain- 
ous terrain, accessible by footpaths of moderate 
to steep climbs. Hardwoods, especially oaks 
and hickories and black gum, along with several 




species of pines dominate the woodlands here. The deep 
deciduous-mix forest is home to game animals as well as 
upland birds and songbirds, appealing to hunter and birder 
alike. Turkeys, grouse, black bears, and squirrels inhabit the 
woods, enticing hunters during their seasons, but white- 
tails are the primary game animal sought by local sports- 

The U-shaped property runs along the ridge lines of 
Sand, Lick, Stuart, and Swecker mountains. Big Survey 
surrounds the Crystal Springs watershed, owned by the 
town of Wytheville. Not surprisingly, at 3,500 feet only 
small spring-fed streams cut into the land. This leaves the 
recreational angler to seek other places to fish. 

Autumn brings a dynamic roster of colors to these 
hills, notable for their expansive, brilliant displays of yel- 
lows, oranges, reds. During spring, rhododendrons and 
flame azaleas inject their splashy hues into the dark forest 
understory. Pinxter azaleas claim their spotlight, too, 
adding pale pinks and whites to the mix. Their thick leaves 
counter the spindly needles of tall pines throughout and, 
under certain wind conditions, make for an ethereal trail 




'• w 

■;■? -m 

YK , 


The view from Sand Mountain across the Wytheville Watershed is 
breathtaking any time of year. Above, flame azaleas light up the 
understory in late spring. 

FEBRUARY 2012 ♦ 21 




..*«** vt - 

Sally Mills 



A recently completed gravel road offers hunters and other visitors walking access into 
the dense forest. 

Birds-foot violet grows in the sandy soils of 
Big Survey. Diana fritillary (R) finds a home 
in the oak woodlands of the WMA. 

Two designated trails serve hikers, 
hunters, birders, students, nature lovers; each 
offers a different perspective on the water- 

High Rocks Trail - This 1.3-mile 
trail climbs 520 feet through lush 
canopy and rock outcroppings. The 
trail peak affords the hiker a spectac- 
ular view of the valley, dotted by the 
markings of light industry', the town 
of Wythevilie, and surrounding 

Tower Trail - A more ambitious 
trail, this one spans 1 ,271 feet of ele- 
vation with some challenging climbs 
and large boulders to maneuver 
around. It also looks out to the 
windswept grasses of the valley 
below and, on a clear day, breathtak- 
ing views of the wooded ridges of 
southwestern Virginia. 
A third trail on the property is gated and 
used primarily as an access road for mainte- 
nance and emergency vehicles. It does, how- 
ever, offer an additional walking path for 

On a detour off the High Rocks Trail last 
Mav, I was treated to evidence of deer, bear, 

bobcat, coyote, raccoon, and turkey tracks. 
Though unintentional, my wanderings also 
flushed a hen on her nest, revealing seven light 
brown, speckled turkey eggs beneath. Young 
fawns and squirrels were on the move that day, 
as well. 

Allen Boynton is a manager in the De- 
partment's southwestern region and reports 
that he has observed scarlet tanager, ovenbird, 
great-crested flycatcher, red-eyed vireo, and 
blue jay, among others, during his periodic 
visits to check on the management area. Dur- 
ing a hike with him, bright bursts of feathers 
above were seemingly mirrored below in the 
form of wildflowers gracing the forest floor. 
We came across several — pink lady's slipper, 
yellow star grass, and birdsfoot violets — amid 
blankets of delicate ferns. We hiked out before 
sundown, but I could imagine the night 
sounds of owls and whippoorwills, heard by 
neighbors, adding yet another layer to the 
mystique of this place. 

On a subsequent hike this past fall, 
Boynton retraced our route and captured the 
outburst of colors of the autumn hardwoods. 
Those colors are repeated on the face of Walk- 
er Mountain, seen from the Tower Trail and 
well worth a drive along the Walker Mountain 


Loop of the Virginia Birding and Wildlife 

A recently completed gravel road has 
been installed at Big Survey, thanks to a gen- 
erous contribution by the National Wild 
Turkey Federation, federal aid dollars, and 
sportsmen's license fees. This gated trail pro- 
vides visitors with walking access of two miles 
back into the wooded landscape from the 
nearby, High Rock parking area. 

According to Assistant Bureau Director 
Rick Busch, installation of this road serves 
many purposes. Essentially, it creates a linear 
opening that offers new habitat for wild 

turkey and ruffed grouse broods and, at the 
same time, important edge habitat used by a 
host of wild animals. As Busch explains, 
"Wildlife strip openings cover more land- 
scape but with less square footage. Because of 
that efficiency, a project like this results in 
more bang for the buck." 

Soil-stabilizing grasses have since been 
planted along the road bed and, with a little 
time, forbs important to wildlife will come 
back naturally. Periodic mowing and burning 
will be employed to keep the linear corridor 
at this low, successional stage of growth and 
prevent it from reverting back to forest. 

Big Survey 

Rhododendrons bloom throughout Big Survey during late spring, adding dramatic 
bursts of color against the large outcroppings of rock. 

Management Plans 

When the DGIF acquired Big Survey, its first 
order of business was to begin the process of 
phasing out some historical uses of the prop- 
erty to those that align closely with the De- 
partment's core focus on wildlife habitat. The 
process naturally involves getting information 
out to the public and other educational efforts 
to garner local support for the changes. In this 
case, according to Busch, the DGIF was very 

"We got lots of local support and volun- 
tary compliance with our new management 
objectives. Once we explained our mission 
and why we were doing things the way we 
were, people generally came around. They 
know that Big Survey is now being managed 
primarily for wildlife, and they understand 
that all other uses, including recreational 
ones, must be compatible with that," he adds. 

DGIF land managers and biologists 
carry on their work to enhance these forested 
hillsides and create habitat diversity, using the 
best science available. Several more linear 
openings are planned should funding become 
available, and trail maintenance continues. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Spend a day at Big Survey WMA and it is easy 
to understand why a small group of citizens 
would galvanize their energy into a remark- 
able showing of strength and commitment to 
save these hillsides and forests from any uses 
other than a natural area for wildlife. That 
they persevered when doors kept closing is a 
beautiful thing — like the very mountains 
they sought to protect. That they were suc- 
cessful is nothing short of a miracle. ?f 

Magazine editor Sally Mills enjoys any opportunity to 
get outdoors. She appreciates the loyalty of Virginia 
Wildlife readers. 


Big Survey Wildlife Management Area 
Includes a map, directions, and general 
information about the property. 

Virginia Birding & Wildlife Trail, Walker 
4 Mountain Loop 

Western Virginia Land Trust 
(540) 985-0000 

FEBRUARY 2012 ♦ 23 

A look back 
at the career 
Darrell Ferrell 
game warden. 



by Bruce Lemmert 

In the spring of 1993, Darrell Ferrell 
bagged his first wild turkey. The year be- 
fore, after thirty-seven years of service, 
Darrell had retired as a game warden. The 
good judgment and perseverance that had 
served him as a game warden helped in bring- 
ing this gobbler to the table. Asked why he 
hadn't pursued the wild turkey before, Darrell 
indicated that he just didn't think it was right, 
and he left it at that. 


• 39- 

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Cam ftnfavtmmt ($fftora%^ 
draining Bttyaal Yj 

Certificate of Attendance 


CJhis ts to certify thai _ 

allenaed a training course in general law enjorccnuml ItcU ai 

FgEIt^lCKSiiUilC. VlilglKI* 

APftlL. 1. 1957 

APnlL l£, 1957 

Darrell Ferrell at his home in Falmouth, Virginia. 

Ux llxe cooperation o) the &ederal cJjureau o f C/n yatiqatio 





I interviewed Darrell in the home 
he built on Butler Road in Falmouth. 
Darrell began building this house al- 
most a half-century ago when he 
worked at Sylvania-Plank, a local 
plastics factory. The factory paid 
overtime, so Darrell worked as 
many hours as he could to help 
pay for building materials. Ours 
was a kitchen table interview. 
Well, it really wasn't an interview; it 
was a confirmation. You see, I had been inter- 
viewing Darrell for over twenty years, and 
now it was time to determine if I had heard 
him correcdy. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Darrell began work with the Game Commis- 
sion in 1955 at a time when game wardens 
supplied their own vehicles, firearms, and 
work clothes. In addition to enforcing game 
and fish laws, these men were also enforcing 
dog laws. Initial training of this all-white- 
male workforce consisted of self-initiated 
reading of the game and fisheries law book. 

Game wardens of this era knew the com- 
munity they worked and they understood the 
rural culture that included hunting and fish- 
ing. On an informal basis, Darrell learned all 
he could about fish and wildlife and, in 1 957, 
attended a two-week training school for law 
enforcement officers. 

The following April, Game Warden Fer- 
rell coordinated the purchase and release of 
five wild turkey hens in Stafford County. The 
cost, financed by local sportsmen, came to 
$109.97. These birds came from a "wild 
turkey farm" in Pennsylvania. Propagation of 
pen-raised wild turkeys has now been aban- 
doned as costly and ineffective, but this joint 
effort with the community was being made in 
the good faith of the times. 

Virginia Techs Henry Mosby subse- 
quently pioneered wild turkey research that 
proved that farm-raised turkeys were essen- 
tially livestock, despite their pedigree — not 
wildlife. Building on that conclusion, DGIF 
biologist Kit Shaffer led a trap and transfer 
program that helped re-populate wild turkeys 
across the state. The National Wild Turkey 


/9s-r 3Jsg»r rr - 

-^ ^L 

Darrell Ferrell, circa 1960. 

Federation has long supported and helped to 
enhance this more effective, enlightened ap- 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

In his long and illustrious career, Darrell lost 
only one case in court; he never called for 
backup; he didn't use handcuffs; and no one 
out-ran him. Common sense, community 
interaction, shoe leather, and the Golden 
Rule were his most valuable tools. 

Darrell probably could have used hand- 
cuffs from dme to time. On one occasion, 
while working the Piney River on the first day 
of trout season, Darrell received a tip that a 
man was fishing prior to the noon opening. 

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Knowing where the man was hiding his fish, 
Darrell confronted the suspect; he had three 
trout. The man asked if he could put his fishing 
gear in the trunk of his car, which Darrell per- 
mitted. When the violator opened the trunk, 
he grabbed a jar of "white lightning" two- 
thirds full, chugged it down, smashed the 
empty jar to smithereens, and announced he 
wouldn't sign the summons. 

As Darrell explained to me, "The whiskey 
was talking. He had his nerve medicine, you 
see." The man then let loose with a powerful 
mule kick with a large clodhopper that barked 
Darrell's shin from knee to ankle, drawing 
blood. Darrell was on him and told me, "I had 
that Army hold on him and I wasn't letting up. 
I told him if he kicked me again I would tight- 
en up on him." The other game warden came 
with a car and Darrell put the man in the back- 
seat, hold intact, and they took him in. 

Army training had served Darrell well. He 
spent tour years in the service and left as a ser- 
geant. Military fatigues were a by-product of 
Army life, and Darrell wore those khaki pants 
and green shirt in the field as a game warden. 

The sidearm Darrell carried was .22 cal- 
iber, snub nose revolver on a .38 caliber frame. 
Those days, a box of .22-Iong rifle cartridges 
cost twenty-five cents and a box of shorts, fif- 
teen cents. A Stevens, 12-gauge, double barrel 
shotgun was carried in the vehicle. 

In 1956, the Commission furnished a 
winter uniform from the Penitentiary Industri- 
al Department. The uniform consisted of two 



As shown in this 1959 clipping from the 
Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star, game wardens 
have always been closely involved in their 

pairs of trousers at $ 1 7.75 each, one shirt at 
$34.25, and a cap at $4.50. Wardens were re- 
quired to pay one-fourth of the total cost, 
which translated to $18.56. This uniform was 
to be used for court appearances. 

Chief of Law Enforcement Web 
Midyette notified Darrell in 1959 that, as of 
July 1 that year, dog law enforcement would 
no longer be required. This was a welcome re- 
lief to Ferrell. He had already told his super- 
visor, Stuart Parks, that if the dog work weren't 
dropped, he would look for a new job. 

The family car, which also served as Dar- 
rell's work vehicle, was a light blue 1956 Ford 
with straight stick transmission and overdrive. 
The car had been bought new for $2,600. 
After two years of driving back roads and off- 
road doing game warden work, the car was 
pretty beat up. It also had an odor that couldn't 
be sanitized away from the canine messes left 
in the trunk. Enforcing dog laws required 
picking up strays, unlicensed dogs, or those 
that had not had a rabies vaccination. Darrell 
kept a role of wire on hand for replacing tail- 
light wiring, clawed out by the dogs on a regu- 
lar basis. There came a point when DarreH's 
wife, Jo, was reluctant to ride in the car, so after 
two years of hard service, Ferrell sold the light 
blue Ford for $250. His pay at the time: $344 
a month, which was twenty percent below the 
Virginia median household income. 

Of course a month's work could easily go 
over two or even three hundred hours. Forty 
hours could sometimes be worked in two days. 
For example, it was not unusual to begin 
working early Sunday morning before the 
opening of hunting season and not get home 
until late Monday night. But Darrell said that 

he was normally so psyched-up for 
the season he didn't notice the long 
hours. He was never paid for over- 

Ferrell did miss a day's work one 
time. He was in the hospital hav- 
ing a compound fracture of his leg 
set and put in a cast. This was an 
on-the-job injury incurred when 

m ( 

f s.n sto& 

Darrell with the first turkey he ever bagged, 
in 1993. 

a riverbank gave way while checking a fisher- 
man. With the cast on his leg, Darrell used a 
cane to work the clutch in his car. Since he 
couldn't walk very well, he used a 1 5-foot 
wooden johnboat with a 25 Johnson to 
check fishermen. The caulking job Ferrell 
had done on the boat did not make it com- 
pletely watertight, so he occasionally had to 
throttle the Johnson to get the boat on plane, 
pull the plug, and let inertia drain the boat. 
This kept the boat and Darrell's cast dry. Dar- 
rell speculated that had the boat sunk, his leg 
cast probably would have taken him down 
with it. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

In the late '60s, then-director of the agency 
Chester Phelps called Ferrell about violating 
policy. Upgrades in equipment had been 
grudging, but the game wardens had finally 
been granted Commission-owned work ve- 
hicles. They no longer had to use their per- 
sonal vehicles on the job. When the low bid 
vehicles came in, the black Fords arrived with 

air conditioning. As a gas and money saving 
policy, an order went out that the air condi- 
tioners were not to be used. Mr. Phelps asked 
Darrell if it was true that he had turned on his 
air conditioner. "Yes, it was true. I turned it 
on," the warden replied. 

This policy violation didn't set Ferrell back 

too far. He was the first designated lieutenant 

in the agency and retired as captain of the 

northern Virginia region. His leadership 

shaped Virginia game wardens for years to 


Darrell always believed in a well- 
rounded approach to law enforcement. In- 
teraction with people and public 
education were high priorities for this man 
who pioneered some of the first hunter 
safety courses in Stafford County. Those of- 
ficers that persevere feel that they are doing 
something special. A game warden takes 
pride in making a difference, in doing a law 
enforcement task that will otherwise not get 
done. With Darrell's guidance and influence, 
the Commission's mission was promoted at 
community fairs, through local newspapers, 
and over the radio. 

Darrell turned in his badge in 1 992, upon 
his retirement. 

♦ ♦ ♦ 

In 2010, retired officers met at the firearms 
range to qualify for a law enforcement con- 
cealed carry permit. Darrell had broken his 
ankle some months before in a farming acci- 
dent. He was now without cast but still some- 
what hobbled. With a cane in one hand and a 
.357 magnum revolver in the other, at age 82 
Darrell became the most senior person in De- 
partment history to qualify for the law enforce- 
ment, concealed carry, firearms permit. It was 
a sight to behold. 

I served as a game warden under Darrell 
Ferrell for three years prior to his retirement. 
Darrell won me over with his humility and pas- 
sion. He was unafraid. He looked down on no 
one; he looked up to no one. He had servant- 
hood. Darrell's game warden career was a sin- 
gular achievement that he jusdy takes pride in. 

So much of the early game wardens' work 
depended on the individual in the job. For 
Darrell Ferrell it wasn't a job. It was a way of 
life. * 

Bruce Lemmert is a retired conservation police 
officer and a member of the Virginia Chapter of 
The Wildlife Society and the Virginia Outdoor 
Writers Association. 






iSttk Alerter 

Attracting Native Pollinators: 
Protecting North America's Bees 
and Butterflies 

The Xerces Society, foreword by 
Dr. Maria Spivak 

20 1 1 The Xerces Society, Storey Publishing 


372 pages, Color Photos and Illustrations 


"The work of bees and other pollinating insects 
often goes unnoticed, yet these tiny creatures have 
a profound impact on our daily lives. More than 
a third of our food supply relies on the plants they 
pollinate. The recent decline of many of North 
Americas most important pollinators is some- 
thing that everyone should pay attention to. " 

It's February, and many of you are in the 
process of plotting garden strategies. Whether 
you're daydreaming about entirely new land- 
scape designs, tweaking existing patches of 
perennials, or trying to figure out ways to 
make your farms and orchards more produc- 
tive, why not lend Mother Nature a hand, 
and think about simple ways to integrate pol- 
linator-friendly policies into your approach. 

Have you ever considered creating a bee 
pasture? What about setting aside part of the 
community garden specifically for pollina- 
tors? How can you enhance your flower beds 
to provide nectar and pollen for bees and but- 
terflies, and provide host plants for caterpil- 
lars? What simple wildlife stewardship 
projects could your school or workplace un- 
dertake to promote native landscaping and 
attract pollinators? Did you know that you 
can create bee nesting boxes from scrap lum- 
ber? The creative possibilities are endless, and 

you only need a modest amount of space to 
make a genuine impact. 

This vibrant and comprehensive new re- 
source from the Xerces Society gives you an 
inside look at the world from the perspective 
of pollinators and shows gardeners of all skill 
levels easy and effective ways to improve pol- 
linator habitat, thus increasing the overall 
productivity of green spaces. The informa- 
tion-packed chapters are thoughtfully organ- 
ized — a personalized tour of 'Pollinatorville', 
if you will. From the biology of pollination 
and land management best practices, to the 
chapters on site selection, regional plants, and 
full-color bee, butterfly, and plant identifica- 
tion guides, this book is full of engaging sci- 
entific narrative and has virtually every bit of 
information you'll need to begin your adven- 
tures in pollinator-friendly gardening. The 
appendix is uncommonly useful, filled with 
project ideas for parents and educators, a 
glossary, a comprehensive listing of addition- 
al educational resources and where to obtain 
seed, DIY nesting materials, and pertinent 

Reading this volume is also the perfect 
late winter tonic. For me, I began to ponder 
the efficacy of producing native seed 'dirt 
bombs' to deploy over roadside ditches and 
abandoned lots, and I commenced thinking 
of how best to utilize my own scrubby patch 
of mid-town backyard. You might say I began 
to channel the spirit of Lady Bird Johnson. 

But seriously, I'll close with a quote from 
Dr. Maria Spivak, Professor of Agriculture 
and Social Insects at the University of Min- 
nesota: "Plant flowers. By creating floral and 
nesting habitat, bees, butterflies, and countless 
wildlife species will prosper. But through this 
same, simple effort, you will be ensuring an 
abundance of locally grown, nutritious foods 
and vegetables. You will beautify our cities, 
roadways and countryside. You will be spread- 
ing the word about the urgent need to reduce 
pesticide use, while at the same time creating 
habitat for the beneficial insects that prey upon 
crop pests. . . for many of our earths environ- 
mental ills, you will be part of the solution. " 


in THE 

4th Annual 

Virginia NASP State 

February 25, 2012 

Meadow Event Park in Doswell, VA 


Virginia Pepartwent of fame and Inland Fisheries 

Outdoor Report 

Managing and Cocscrvi 
Our Wildlife and Natural Re 

For a free email subscription, 

visit our website at 

Click on the Outdoor Report link 

and simply fill in the required information. 

Reading Your Label 

Is it time to renew? If you are uncertain 
when your subscription expires, look 
for the expiration date in the circled 
location on the sample below. 

********* SCH 3-DIGIT 229 

#VIR0002235105/8#60 MAY12 
P.O. BOX 11104 
RICMOND VA 23230-1104 

FEBRUARY 2012 ♦ 27 

Twice Hooked 

I know a bunch offish stories have been told 
over the years, some true and some stretching 
the truth a bit. When a man has an opportu- 
nity to be part of one, it sure is special. 

My stepson, Barry, gave me a call, invit- 
ing me to join him on a float down the 
Shenandoah last fall. We launched the boat 
around 8 A.M. that Saturday morning just 
under the Rte. 50 bridge and started down 
toward Locke's Mill Landing, a float of about 
8 or 9 miles. The bite was on and off for the 
first three hours, and we caught several small- 
mouths, mostly in the 7- to 8-inch range. 
Barry was using a new line called "nanofil" 
with a fluorocarbon leader and told me he 
was not sure if the nail knot he used to tie the 
lines together was the correct knot. Shortly, 
he had a good hit on his line and reared back 
to set the hook, only to find himself with no 
fish and no leader and no lure. The knot had 
failed and the fish was lost. 

We took some time to re-rig and contin- 
ued on. A couple of hours later and another 
mile or so downriver, we anchored the boat 
and got out to fish. Barry's line went tight 
quickly, and this time he landed the fish. Im- 
mediately, he called me over. He opened the 
mouth of the fish to show me his lure, lost ear- 
lier up the river. The leader was still attached, 
and we could see where it had separated earli- 
er when he hooked this fish. Since the fish 
had started to swallow the lure, we worked 
quickly to remove it and turn the fish free. 

With that lure in its throat and the 
leader attached, there was no doubt it was the 
smallie Barry had hooked earlier (see picture). 
This is the first time I had ever seen the same 
fish hooked twice in one day, with over a mile 
of river between events! I know this story is 
hard to believe, but it is true. 

This story was contributed by Bill Mitchell of 
Northern Virginia, who feels really good about 
being a part of this adventure with Barry. 

Celebrate the 29th Anniversary 
of Virginia's Nongame Wildlife 
Program by helping to support essen- 
tial research and management of 
Virginia's native birds, fish, and 
nongame animals. 

If you are due a tax refund from the 
Commonwealth of Virginia, you can 
contribute to the Virginia Nongame 
Wildlife Program by simply marking 
the appropriate place on this year's tax 
checkoff on the Virginia State Income 
Tax form. 

If you would like to make a cash do- 
nation directly to the Virginia Nongame 
Wildlife Program using a VISA or Mas- 
terCard, you can visit the Department's 
website or mail a check made out to: 
Virginia Nongame Program. 

Mail to: 


Virginia Nongame Program 

4010 W Broad St. 

Richmond, VA 23230-1104 


Nottoway River Gets a Boost 

Biologists and staff from the DGIF and the 
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service released close to 
9,000 freshwater mussels into the Nottoway 
River in November, as part of a statewide ef- 
fort to boost their populations and offset a de- 
clining trend. The mussels were raised at the 
VA Fisheries & Aquatic Wildlife Center at 
Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery in 
Charles City County and tagged before their 
release into the river. Tags help scientists track 
survival rates and spawning success of the 
stocked mussels and increases of native mus- 
sel populations already present in the river. 

According to DGIF biologist Brian 
Watson, "Mussels remain one of the most im- 
periled groups of aquatic animals, which is 

cause for concern. By filtering out nutrients 
and pollutants in the water, mussels provide a 
cleansing service that people, fish, and other 
wildlife depend upon. Healthy mussel popu- 
lations indicate a healthy river system for 
wildlife and people — they serve as the prover- 
bial 'canary in the coal mine.'" 

Divers were also at work that day retriev- 
ing female mussels from the river to aid in on- 
going propagation efforts at the hatchery. 
This attention to the Nottoway River repre- 
sents an expansion of the mussel conservation 
program, once focused primarily in south- 
west Virginia, into waters of the eastern part 
of the state. 


jg 12th Annual 
A Virginia Fly Fishing 


April 21-22, 2012 


The 201 2 Great Backyard 


Anyone can participate, from beginning bird 
watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 
minutes on one day, or you can count for as 
long as you like each day of the event. It's 
free, fun, and easy — and it helps the birds 

February 1 7— February 20 

Please join us! 



Congratulations go to G. Wayland Coates of 
Arlington for his beautiful image of a flowering 
Japanese cherry blooming along the tidal basin 
around the Jefferson Memorial. Wayland used a 
Sony Cyber-shot DSH-H50 digital camera, ISO 100, 
1/60, f/7.1. Lovely textures! 

You are invited to submit one to five of your best 
photographs to "Image of the Month," Virginia 
Wildlife Magazine, P.O. Box 11104, 4010 West 
Broad Street, Richmond, VA 23230-1104. Send 
original slides, super high-quality prints, or high- 
res jpeg, tiff, or raw files on a disk and include a 
self-addressed, stamped envelope or other ship- 
ping method for return. Also, please include any 
pertinent information regarding how and where 
you captured the image and what camera and set- 
tings you used, along with your phone number. We 
look forward to seeing and sharing your work with 
our readers. 


essay & photos by King Montgomery 

ack in school, I remember looking at a tiny drop of water in a 
microscope. There appeared to be more life in that little drop 
than there was in the town where I lived. Single- and multi-celled ani- 
mals and plants floated, swam, or flagellated from one side of the glass 
slide to the other. That was a long time ago, and these days I take my 
water watching in larger doses, usually while fishing, boating, or hiking. 

There are many wonders in water in all its various forms and in the 
water-dependent ecosystems around it, of which we all are a part. "A 
lake is the landscapes most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth's 
eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depths of his own 
nature," said Henry David Thoreau in Walden ( 1 854). 

I see and understand Thoreaus point, but most of my attention is 
focused not on the depths of my own nature, but on the water creatures 
themselves. When near water, I always have a camera ready and, while 
it's impossible to photograph your soul, an obliging frog, fish, bird, 
squirrel, butterfly, or beede that holds its pose is another matter. 

Our affinity with water — of which our bodies are over 75 per- 
cent — draws us to it, in pan, because of our current dependency on it 
and our remote origins in it. Water has many moods, just as we have. It 
connects with the never-ending cycle of being born and dying, with life 
in between. We are an animal species, too, and we still must come to 
water — fresh, brackish, or salt — when the warm breeze ruffles the tran- 
quil surface of the liquid world and we are drawn, and often soothed. 

"We need the tonic of the wildness," remarked Thoreau, referring 
to what he learned at his favorite water-watching place at Walden Pond 
and along the Adantic's shore, "to wade sometimes in marshes where 
the bittern and the meadow-hen lurk, and hear the booming of the 
snipe; to smell the whispering sedge where only some wilder and more 
solitary fowl builds her nest. . ." 

The next time you're near water, stop and have a seat on a rock, log, 
or the ground at water's edge. Do a quick scan of the surface from side 
to side and you'll see plenty of life: the Canada geese sliding onto the 
water for a landing; the mallard pair tipping down to munch the shal- 
low aquatic grasses; the wild turkeys grazing the far shore; the dragon- 
and damselflies darting to and fro; and much more. And then look 
down into the square yard or two of water closest to you. And stare. You 
will be transported and truly amazed at the natural wonders water 
has to share with your senses, if 

King Montgomery is a freelance outdoors! travel 
writer and photographer font Burke and a 
frequent contributor to Virginia Wildlife. Contact 
him at kinganglerl @aol. com. 

- < 


er ls 

Water is the foundation of life. 
All creatures large and small need water. 
And water provides places for outdoor 
recreation, including boating, hunting, 
fishing, wildlife watching, photography, 
and just plain contemplation. 

Ol' Jones and I were spending a Satur- 
day afternoon practicing what I do 
best — hunting and trialing. He uses a whistle, 
usually in combination with hand signals, as a 
way of communicating whenever I am sup- 
posed to retrieve something that is quite a dis- 
tance away or if he and I are separated by 
some obstacle that prevents him from coming 
to where I am. If Jones blows the training 
whistle with one sharp blast, I know to stop, 
face him, and be ready for a hand signal. 
Teamwork for the both of us is sort of a trade- 
off. Of Jones has learned that he is better off 
trusting my nose than his eyesight when lo- 
cating a pheasant, so he only has to have a gen- 
eral idea of where the bird went down. 

Each hand signal starts with Jones facing 
me with the flat of both palms of his hands 
together about chest high, in what you hu- 
mans may call the "prayer position." This is 
more than appropriate, because if you have 
ever participated in a field trial or hunt test, 
you know there is often more praying going 
on at these events than an old-time Elmer 
Gantry tent meeting. "Please Lord, let my 
dog get a good mark," or "Please Lord, let my 
dog remember the location of the third 
mark," or other such incantations. 

When I am sitting at a distance facing 
Jones and he wants me to go to his left (my 
right), he throws his left arm straight out to 
his left, like some over-caffeinated traffic cop, 
and yells "OVER!" The flat palm of his left 
hand is facing me. I then run to my right and 
try to find what we are looking for. The same 
thing applies if he wants me to go to his right 
(my left) by throwing his right arm out to his 
right and yelling the same thing. If he wants 
me to go back farther from where I am, he 
shoots his right arm skyward, like the smart 
kid in his high school algebra class who always 
knew the answers, and yells, "BACK!" As al- 
ways, the flat part of his palm is facing me. I, 
in turn, move farther away from him. This 
signal has been hard for Ol' Jones to master 
because he never raised his hand in algebra 

class or any other class for that matter. During 
the four years of high school, I am pretty sure 
his hands never came out of the prayer posi- 

If, by some chance, I over-run the 
bumper or bird, Jones will blow a sharp 
"STOP!" whistle and then, once I have 
stopped, will toot three quick times on it. 
That means "COME HERE!" and lets me 
know I am supposed to come toward him. 
When he gives the "STOP!" whistle blast 
again, I know I am in the area where he needs 
me to be. 

We have both practiced these signals so 
often that all I need to see is the direction his 
hand goes and I know what direction I am 
supposed to go. The only whistle blowing, 
therefore, is just the STOP toot or the three 
COME HERE toots. 

Now I know that you sports-minded 
humans like to believe that lessons on the 
field, such as teamwork, will carry you 
through life and all that, but not in every in- 
stance, as Ol' Jones related to me after one of 
our recent training sessions. "You know, 
Luke, we work pretty well together and we 
don't have to say much to each other at all. I 
thought early on in my marriage that if my 
wife and I could have the same kind of team- 
work, we'd get along just as well as you and I 
do," he confided. "One night, when she was 
in the kitchen making one of her great Italian 
dishes, I thought it would be great if she 
would bring me a glass of wine before dinner. 
So, I gave her three sharp blasts on the whistle 
and waited. She didn't come. I waited and 
gave her three more toots and she still didn't 
respond. I thought maybe she was deaf or 
something, so I went back to the kitchen to 
see what was the problem. It turns out Italians 
from Philly also know a few hand signals. Her 
signal has a slight variation from the 
"BACK!" signal we use, but I understood ex- 
actly -what it meant." 

Keep a leg up, 


The Virginia Outdoor Writers Associa- 
tion annually sponsors two writing 
competitions for Virginia high school 
students (grades 9-12) and undergradu- 
ate students attending a Virginia college 
or university. Awards of gift certificates, 
outdoors gear, and cash are offered for 
winning entries. 

Go to for contest 
guidelines and other details. Then grab 
some paper or a laptop and get to work! 

Deadline is February 13, 2012. 


"I thought we had six fish 
in the live well." 

7~aJ(e> Your PoJ 
Out //? Sty/<° 

See page 35 for details. 


Photo Tips 

by Lynda Richardson 

The Clone Stamp Tool is awesome for getting 
rid of annoying things in a photograph. Here, 
you can see a pistil sticking up in the upper 
right of the photograph. I want it out! 

Here, I have removed the pistil using the 
Clone Stamp Tool. Much better! 

Yes, it's cold outside! Maybe, instead of 
shooting images, you could work on 
the ones you've already taken by using a soft- 
ware program called Adobe Photoshop CS5. 
The software that normally comes with 
your camera might be good enough for basic 
needs, like cropping and exposure correction, 
but Photoshop offers a world of creative tools 
that the average camera software can't even 
touch! While the upfront cost is nothing to 
sneeze at, this is a program that you will really 
appreciate over time. Here are just a few ex- 
amples of some of my favorite applications. 

Dodge and Burn Tool 

Back in the old days, I can remember stand- 
ing in the Associated Press's darkroom in 
Richmond, exposing photo paper under an 
enlarger and using all sorts of weird tools to 
make the best print possible. My favorite tool 
for the job was a bent wire coat hanger with a 
circular piece of cardboard attached to the 
end. This "dodge" tool was waved over a print 
during the exposure to keep light off of an 
area, thus making that area lighter in the final 
print. You could also "burn" areas, and for 
this, it was normal to use your hands. 

Today's Photoshop has a tool box with a 
wide assortment of tools, two of them being 
the dodge and burn tools. Ironically, the sym- 
bol for dodging is a circle on the end of a coat 
hanger and the burning symbol is a hand. 

(Too funny!) These tools give you full control 
over the amount of dodging and burning you 
apply to an image and are so much easier to 
use than the steps involved in darkroom 

Clone Stamp Tool 

This great tool allows you to copy an area and 
paste it over another area. This is awesome if 
you need to cover something up like a tele- 
phone line or copy and paste something into 
a photograph. 


Filters are found in the Menu Bar at the top of 
the window, under Filter. When applied, 
these tools can make a photograph look like a 
Monet painting, a charcoal drawing, or a 
spinning swirl of color. Filters are so much 
fun to play with that they can become quite 
addicting. I have spent hours experimenting 
with how the different effects influence my 

So when winter has you in its grip and 
keeps you from shooting pictures, why not 
give Photoshop CS5 a try? Enjoy! 

The Wave filter was applied harshly here but 
you can apply less or more of the effect since 
you have full control! 

The Colored Pencil filter was fun to play 
with as well. 

Lynda Richardson's 
Photography Workshops 

All classes are held at Lewis Ginter Botani- 
cal Garden. Go to to 
register and look under Adult &c Family 
Education or call (804) 262-9887X322 
(M-F, 9am -5pm). 
Photographing Winter Wonders on 
February 9, 11, 16. Learn how to find 
exciting photographic opportunities in 
the winter landscape. 
Advanced Flash Clinic on March 15, 17, 
22, 24, 29. Know how to use your hotshoe 
flash? Learn to use more than one flash, and 

Making the Most of Your Digital Camera 
the various settings on your camera and 
how to make them work for you. 

FEBRUARY 2012 ♦ 33 


by Ken and Maria Perrotte 

Rabbits Make for Classic Winter Meals 

Once the throngs of deer hunters have left Virginias 
woods and farmlands, the rabbit hunting faithful 
with their packs of beagles typically take to the field. De- 
pending on the terrain and habitat, rabbit hunting can be 
surprisingly demanding for both dogs and hunters or it can 
be as easy as a stroll along a brushy fence line. As with any 
game, quick and proper handling in the field helps the 
rabbit transform into a tasty, mild-flavored ingredient in the 

These two recipes deliver very different results and 
flavors. Rabbit cooks much like a mild, white meat game 
bird, such as pheasant. Pay close attention to the meat as it 
cooks. You want it cooked through, but not dried out. The 
size rabbit being cooked has a bearing on the amount of 
time needed in the skillet or the oven. 

Rabbit with Garlic Potatoes 

1 rabbit, about I-V2 to 2 pounds, cut into 6 or 8 pieces 

7 baby red potatoes, cut in half 

6 or 7 garlic cloves, halved if large 

Olive oil 

3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces 

Vi teaspoon rosemary 

V2 teaspoon black pepper 

Dash of salt 

Preheat oven to 400°. 

Toss potatoes and garlic with 2 teaspoons olive oil and 
roast for about 1 5 minutes in a shallow baking dish large 
enough to also hold the rabbit pieces. Meanwhile, cook the 
bacon in a large skillet over medium heat with 1 teaspoon 
olive oil until it starts to brown and render its fat. Remove 
the bacon and set aside. 

Pat the meat dry and then brown it in the same skillet, 
several pieces at a time, adding olive oil if necessary. Add the 
meat and seasonings to the roasting pan. Cover, reduce heat 
to 350°, and roast for about 20 minutes. Remove the cover, 
add bacon, and cook another 1 minutes, until rabbit is 
cooked and tender. 

Garnish with fresh rosemary. Serve with a favorite side 
of vegetables and a glass of light red wine, such as a Pinot 
Noir, an Italian Sangiovese, or a French Beaujolais. 

Braised Rabbit 

1 rabbit, about I-V2 to 2 pounds, cut into 6 or 8 pieces 

Vz cup flour 

Vz teaspoon each, salt and pepper 

3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil 

1 cup sliced onion 

2 cups sliced mushrooms 

1 tablespoon chopped garlic 

2 cups chicken stock 
Vz cup dry white wine 
2 fresh rosemary sprigs 
1 bay leaf 

1 tablespoon butter, softened 
1 tablespoon flour 
Salt and pepper, to taste 

Season the flour with salt and pepper and dredge the meat 
in the mixture. Saute the rabbit in 2 tablespoons of the oil in 
a Dutch oven, several pieces at a time, until browned on all 
sides. Add more olive oil if needed. Remove the meat. 

Add a tablespoon of oil and saute onions, garlic, and 
mushrooms until soft. Add meat back to the Dutch oven 
and add the liquids. Cover and place in 350° oven for about 
45 minutes, until meat is tender. Remove lid and add bay 
and rosemary. Simmer on the stovetop for about 1 min- 
utes. Remove the bay and rosemary. 

Combine the butter and flour and whisk in the mix- 
ture to thicken the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve 
over noodles or rice. Accompany with a chardonnay that 
has had some toasted oak barrel aging. 


Virginia Wildlife Magazine 

A dog-gone good deal! 

Order Online 

www. HuntFish VA . com 

With just the click of a mouse you can order Virginia Wildlife 
magazine online using your VISA or MasterCard, and have it 
delivered to your home for just $12.95 a year — an incredible 
savings off the cover price. While you're there, don't forget to 
check out the Virginia Wildlife Outdoor Catalog for a unique 
and special gift. 


Only $10 each. 

The 2012 calendar features stunning 
photographs and information about 
hunting seasons, favorable fishing 
dates and state records, wildlife 
behavior, and more! 

Send your check payable to 

"Treasurer of Virginia" to: 

Virginia Wildlife Calendar 

P.O. Box 11 104 

Richmond, VA 23230-1104 

To pay by VISA or MasterCard, you may order online at 
on our secure site. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. 

T C 

-W -m V -yr- 

liy^r UN 1A 

Outdoor Catalog 

Check Out What's New! 

Virginia Wildlife Leash 

Our Virginia Wildlife 6' long, high tensile, black 
and tan nylon webbing leash features a sturdy 
nickel-plated snap hook. 

Item #VW-137 

(plus $7.25 S&H) 

DGIF and Virginia Wildlife Hats 

Our brand new DGIF and Virginia Wildlife high 
profile hats are available in 100% cotton and are 
size adjustable. 

Item JfVW-1 38 (DGIF hat) $11.95 

Item 9 VW-1 39 (Virginia Wildlife hat) $1 1 .95 

(plus $7.25 S&H) 

To Order visit the Department's 

website at: 

or call (804)367-2569. 

Please allow 3 to 4 weeks for delivery. 

Magazine subscription-related calls only 1-800-710-9369 ♦ Annual subscription for just $12.95 

All other calls to (804) 367-1000; (804) 367-1 278 HY 




— ""VIRGIN!/ 







j^, • V1RGINI 






Looking for an easy 

but meaningful way to 

support wildlife? 

Virginia drivers can show how much 
they care by purchasing a Wildlife 
Conservationist license plate. Choose 
from a number of beautiful designs 
and smile, knowing that a portion of 
each purchase helps support wildlife 
and their habitats. While traveling, 
you may inspire others to do the 
same! To learn more, visit